Your Guide to Developing a Winning Strategy in 2015

As 2014 comes to a close, it is my yearly tradition to sit down and reflect on the ups and downs I’ve had over the previous year. I do this to show gratitude for all of my experiences, positive and negative, as they taught me valuable learning lessons to carry forward into the New Year. With this reflection comes a focused meditation of the specific goals I challenge myself to achieve by the end of 2015. These objectives, often rudimentary in the beginning, require thoughtful strategies in order to see them come to fruition over the next year.

Much like my personal experience, it is important that brands take a moment to sit down and list out their top goals for the coming year. These goals require a well-defined strategy to serve as a road map on how they can be met. Too often as marketers we focus not so much on strategy, but the fire drills of quickly getting something out the door due to a change in messaging, product promotion, or the original plan. By putting a marketing strategy in place it helps keep the team aligned, especially in moments of ambiguity, to remind everyone how your goals will be met.

Here four key elements to remember when crafting your marketing strategy for 2015:

1. Include clearly defined goals: Gather your key players into one room and decide exactly what you want to achieve in 2015. Make sure to have all of the resources and data you need in front of you to avoid digging around for it during your meeting. Instead, remain focused on analyzing next year’s approach by evaluating the data you have with you. List out your goals and make sure that all members of your team have them handy. Without the top goals known and communicated, each member may be under different assumptions.

2. Foster a Proactive Culture: Being proactive is a having the ability to foresee and overcome an item that may become a problem in the future. There are many ways to encourage this type of culture, such as continued education, providing competitive industry insight, experience, and team coaching. I find that employees generally want to do their best when they come to work. By encouraging employees to be forward-thinking through new challenges, your company will continue to foster brand growth, saving resources for thought-leadership instead of disaster management.

3. Know Consumer Wants and Preferences: There is a lot of data your brand is collecting on a daily basis (search, display, social, web, email, etc). This data can be collected and analyzed to understand customer behavior, trends, and needs in the marketplace. The insights you can gather, both en masse and on a single profile, can start to reveal a lot about shopping patterns and consumer expectations with your brand and industry. Craft this understanding into your 2015 strategy to develop a winning plan that takes into account industry knowledge, patterns, and user actions.

4. Remain Adaptable: Even the best laid plan can change at the drop of a hat. I have been involved with many solid campaigns throughout my career that change due to new priorities and expectations arising. Incorporate a plan into your strategy indicating how you will handle the turbulent weather that will arise. Ask yourself why change is happening and if it will cause damage to the 2015 objectives you set with your team. Are you just trying to see a quick gain in the next quarter, or is the issue larger? By accepting that adaptability must be included into your plan, it allows you to fix these smaller issues while remaining on target to meet your goals for 2015.

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